HistoryRemix: On Being a Digital Historian…
Cameron Blevins, a graduate student at Stanford University, has been blogging about his practice as a digital historian since June of 2008. His most recent post, The Mobile Historian proves this to be a blog worth watching. In an earlier post, Methodologies and the (Digital) History Major, In a response to a report drafted by Stanley N. Katz and James Grossman, Blevins takes a look at Katz and Grossman’s conclusions “through a digital lens.” I particularly like his response to the assertion that:
The single most important contribution that training in history can make to the liberal learning of undergraduates is to help students to contextualize knowledge, offering an antidote to naive presentism.
One hallmark of the digital age is the ephemeral nature of information. Lacking the inherent stability and traditional gatekeeping of the analog era, it becomes more and more difficult to “pin down” knowledge. Without assurance that a website will exist tomorrow or next week or next year, knowledge and authority become much more fluid, and users will be even more inclinated towards presentism (whether naive or not). Historians will need to offer their skills in contextualizing and framing a constantly shifting corpus of information, at the very least in order to provide a sense of temporal perspective.
In Blevin’s statements, I find new connections between information literacy and historical study…and affirmation of my professional journey…as historian – turned librarian – turned educator.
Tags: digital historian